Recent reports released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) have coincided in their condemnation of the unsustainable practices that continue to destroy the natural world, while exposing humankind to the threat of devastating pandemics.
According to leading voices within the WWF, WHO and UN, humanity’s disregard for the harmony of the natural world is directly responsible for the emergence of grave risks to human health such as the current global coronavirus pandemic.
It is believed that the Covid-19 virus first infected humans in the Chinese city of Wuhan after the virus jumped species at an unregulated wet market, where live wild animals were kept in close proximity and sold as food or for use in traditional medical practices. Scientists think that the new coronavirus came from bats and was passed to another mammal, possibly the heavily-trafficked pangolin, before infecting humans.
Illegal and unsustainable wildlife trafficking, coupled with the destruction of the world’s forests, have been identified as driving forces behind the increasing number of diseases that have jumped from animals to humans. Experts are warning that the current pandemic will not be the last zoonotic event to affect the global population, and that drastic changes in the way we interact with the natural world are urgently needed. What is required, they say, is a green response to the health crisis currently costing lives and devastating economies across the globe.
In a report published this week, WWF International highlights what it calls “humanity’s broken relationship with nature”, before going on to outline the costs of that breakdown (https://explore.panda.org/pandemics?quicklink). Nature has been suffering for decades from humankind’s destructive ways, says the report, and now societies everywhere are seeing lives and jobs lost, and national and local economies wrecked.
Highlighting the pressures on nature resulting from exploitation of wildlife and unsustainable food production systems, the WWF calls for a response to this global emergency that will make both the planet and humanity stronger: tackling the trade in wild animals, halting deforestation, supporting economic stimulus packages to foment a green recovery founded upon sustainable business models.
Here in our own Tambopata Ecolodge Private Conservation Area, from our remote location in the Amazon basin forests of southeastern Peru, we are continuing with our task of conserving for future generations the unspoiled corner of the natural world where we developed our ecotourism model almost three decades ago. As we watch the current health crisis unfold in so many parts of the world, we look forward to the day when we can begin once more to introduce travelers to the wonders of the natural home that is our shared heritage, while showing them that it is possible to live in harmony with our planet.